In 2009, Leigh and I took a trip to California. We saw things we had never experienced before, both in the city and in nature. We witnessed a forest fire in Yosemite, took a drive down the coastal highway one, communed with famous tech personalities, spent a night in Vegas and toured some of the most beautiful wine country in America.
This year, we took another trip. This trip has been characterized by the muddy trails, by snow, horses, puking and most of all friendships. This trip was a journey into the ultra running community. My first run this year with the Central Ohio Trail Runners involved 17 miles of snow covered trails at Alum Creek. To call them trails at that point in the winter is probably being generous – the snow cover made navigation near impossible if you were not familiar with their windy lines through the woods. However, on this cold wintery morning, I had the privilege of beginning my trail running journey with amazing runners like Mark Carroll, Julie Bowen-Miller, Tom Patton, Michael Patton, Dave Huss and others.
Flash forward to yesterday. I waited in delightful anticipation all day for what has now become known as a ninja run with Mark Carroll, Mike Keller and anyone else who feels so inclined to lace up their running shoes for a foray into Highbanks metro park well after the sun has set and the park has closed its gates. Sure it’s illegal, but so is answering the call of nature in, well, nature as I found out from Mike. While I have only participated in a few ninja runs I cherish each chance I get to head out for some miles after dark with my closest running friends. The first all night run I participated in was up at Mohican State Park. As darkness was falling, Star told us how cool it is to run at night despite the fact that people may call you crazy for it. To me, running all night was a magical experience. Not many people can (or want to) say that they have done it. At 4:45am, Jay’s watch alarm went off signaling that he should be getting up for his morning run on a normal day and letting us know that we had all been out in the woods together for the last 8 hours.
I often like to think that I can take care of myself and that I have things in my life under control. The reality is that I have always had people in my life to take care of me and to watch over me. This could not have been better illustrated this year by the people who took care of me at the two 100-mile races that I completed this year. To nurse a runner back to enough health that they can get their legs moving again, knowing full well that they have brought this pain on themselves, takes a lot of love and a lot of selflessness. In my moments of hubris, I like to think that I can run these races on my own power and strength. The reality is that I have many loving and faithful friends and family that gave me the gift this year of helping me along my journey.
There are so many moments this year that I have absolutely loved and will always cherish. They have marked the beginning of my ultra running trip and a new era that has already proven itself to be unbelievably sweet. Thanks to all that have participated and I’m looking forward to what 2011 will bring.